Bharat Sharma’s career in dance spanning over three and a half decade is marked by a diversity of experiences in performing arts and related fields as performer, choreographer, teacher, writer, technician and administrator.
Born in a family of dancers, Bharat grew up in an environment that was conducive for artistic growth. Groomed in principles of choreography by his father, Narendra Sharma (1972-1990) at Bhoomika Creative Dance Centre in New Delhi, he also received thorough grounding in Mayurbhanj Chhau under Krishna Chandra Naik (1977-1979) and Kathakali (1978-1979) under Sadanam Balakrishnan.
In USA, a full-scholarship from Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival (1979) and fellowship from Asian Cultural Council (1982) helped him to train in modern dance, ballet and Jazz techniques. In New York he studied at Nikolais/Louis Dance Lab and Ruth Currier Studio and in North Carolina at American Dance Festival. In 1992 he was invited by Swedish Institute to observe performing arts activities in Sweden.
As a dancer, Bharat’s career has been prolific. As a performer with Bhoomika he danced as a soloist for eighteen years in India and abroad, and gave over 500 performances. He danced Mayurbhanj Chhau in Krishna Chandra Naik’s productions ‘Khajuraho’ (1979) and ‘Kaling Vijay’ (1980) in Delhi, and with Claudia Gitelman and Dancers (1982) in New York. As an independent soloist, he has participated in major festivals including Navnritya Festival, Kolkata (1986); East-West Encounters, Mumbai and Delhi (1984 & 1993); Nritya Pratibha, Delhi (1986); Nitya Nritya, Bangalore (1986); Sangeet Natak Akademi Festival, Kolkata (2002); American Dance Festival, USA (1984); La Danse A Aix, France (1984); and Festival of Indian Performing Arts, Germany (1994).
As a choreographer, Bharat has created dances for a wide range of forums. His independent choreography began in 1983 when he premiered two solos in New Delhi - ‘Hem Lalit’ and ‘Untitled I’. American Dance Festival commissioned him in 1987 where he premiered ‘Utthaan’. He choreographed ‘Pathik’ (1988), ‘Swapnakosh’ (1990), ‘Nothing in particular’ (1992), ‘Kalaasham’ (1992) and ‘Nightingale’ (2008) for Bhoomika. He danced and choreographed in an experimental dance film ‘Shanti Dhwani’ (1985) based on Ravi Shankar’s music that was twice relayed on the National TV network. He premiered solos ‘Rippi rippi di rippi kora’ (1993), ‘Untitled II’ (1985), ‘Duvidha’ (1985) and ‘Tribute to Dada’ (1999), and choreographed three solos ‘Rummet’, ‘Nuekoln’ and ‘Raga Marwa’ for dancers of Apoorva Dance Theatre, Bangalore in 1997.
He has also choreographed dances for large groups for the Republic Day Parade (1985 & 1991) in New Delhi and was co-choreographer of dances produced for the closing event of Festival of India in Moscow (1988) danced by 100 Indian and Russian dancers. He was Performance Coordinator for the inaugural event of first South Asian Cultural Festival in Delhi (1992) and Festival of India in China (1993), and Associate Director of the opening ceremony of Apna Utsav in Delhi (1988) that involved 5000 traditional performers from all over India.
As a teacher, Bharat was a core member of the teaching faculty of Bhoomika where he prepared a host of contemporary dancers. He has taught actors at the National School of Drama, New Delhi; Rang Mandal, Bhopal; Rang Vidushak, Bhopal; Sri Ram Centre, New Delhi; Living Theatre, New Delhi; and NINASAM Theatre Institute, Karnataka. He was twice invited by German-India Association to teach dance at Akademie Remschied in Germany.
He has maintained a sustained interest since 1978 in inculcating performing arts education amongst children and the young, and produced dances for schools and colleges. He organized series of performances for children for Bhoomika’s T.R.E.A.T. project. He was part of the core group set up by N.C.E.R.T. in 1989 to suggest guidelines for dance education in schools to be incorporated in National Education Policy.
As an administrator, between 1994-1999, he was part of the first team to build India Foundation for the Arts, Bangalore - an independent national grant-making institution. As a Programme Director, he initiated and steered the arts collaboration programme and monitored arts research and documentation grants.
In addition, Bharat was Ballet Master, Bhoomika (1979-1983); Production Director, Bhoomika (1983-1990); Project Coordinator, Rang Vidushak (1990-1993); and Project Coordinator of the Closing Event of Festival of India in Moscow (1988).
Between 2000-03 he worked on a research project ‘Chaali’: Highway Performance Circuits that attempted to evolve a support system for contemporary dance and expand performance opportunities in the community. Two rounds were undertaken in 2001 and 2003 that traveled for 5000 kms in a bus with groups of eminent dancers/groups/technicians across the states of Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh to give performances and workshops in diverse cultural settings.
Bharat has made forays in other related areas of performing arts. He has worked as a sound engineer, lighting designer and composed music for his own dances. He composed music and made a short film ‘Forgetful Pauses’ for Apoorva Dance Theatre (1999). His design for the poster for the production ‘Wolf-Boy’ won him a national award in 1980.
He has written regularly on issues related to modern performance art in journals and newspapers and has been a critical voice for advocating modern dance in India at various forums and seminars. Since 1994 he worked systematically with various agencies in Bangalore to raise awareness in favor of modern dance in the city.
Between 2003-08 he was Reader (Associate Professor), Dance at the multidisciplinary Sarojini Naidu School of Performing Arts, Fine Arts and Communications at University of Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh where he taught choreography and modern technique.
Currently he is the Director of Bhoomika Creative Dance Centre, New Delhi - one of the foremost performing arts institution in India.